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Student Concerns Over Proposed Changes to ISB Uniform Policy

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Student Concerns Over Proposed Changes to ISB Uniform Policy

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Team Shirts Limited to Fridays

Identity, a complex ideology which allows humans to establish their presence in society. Identity can be established either through the activities one chooses to engage with, the race/ethnicity which one adopts, or through entities as simple as the clothes people wear. The controversial topic of school uniforms has been entertained throughout every educational establishment, including the International School of Bangkok (ISB).

Although many students argue that uniforms are unnecessary and simply constrict and stifle the expression of individual identity, on the flipside many students also voice their opinions regarding the conveniences of waking up every morning without the additional stress of having to plan for an appropriate school outfit.

However, many students fail to realize that ISB’s endorsement of a school uniform was not a personal decision but rather a governmental regulation, Mr Vaughan mentions, “By Thai law we are required to have a uniform, there is no real room for negotiation on that.”

Psychologically speaking, although school uniforms extrapolate one’s personal identity, they additionally add onto one’s social identity. All individuals have a variety of social identities which they fulfill, social identities can take the form of being a son or daughter, runner or swimmer, debater or actor, society labels individuals based on one’s actions and appearances. Through the implementation of school uniforms, students are unified as a school and also begin establishing their social identity in society. Additionally, Mr. Vaughan comments, “From initial feedback last year about our school uniform there was a lot of support to change the uniform. The current uniform is the original uniform that was in place when ISB was first required to have a uniform by Thai Law. There are some definite changes that should take place such as updating the logo, improving the fabric and creating a better solution for pants.”

Recently, many have complained about the current uniform which has been running since 2005. Many believe that the materials which the school uniforms are comprised of, are simply unfit for the heat of the South East Asian weather and that additionally the uniform bottoms are visually displeasing as well as uncomfortable. Considering the fact that the ISB uniform has been kept the same for numerous years, members of the student council decided to address the issue and advocate for a new uniform which better fits the needs of the student body. Mr Vaughan adds, “we are soon to start a student committee focusing on the final changes and providing feedback on the pants issue. Hopefully we can have a group of motivated students who can help bring a positive change!”

Once the new uniform was released, huge amounts of backlash were generated as parents and students both agreed that the current uniforms fulfill the needs of the ISB community much better than the proposed new uniforms. Mr. Vaughan addresses, “The initial designs that were presented to ISB and the school community did not get a great response. Students felt that they were too similar to other schools in Bangkok; The next steps are to see if we can modernize the current uniform to provide a better fabric, update the logo and find a solution to the pants.”

…the next steps are to see if we can modernize the current uniform to provide a better fabric, update the logo and find a solution to the pants.”

— Dean of Students Mr. Vaughan

Although school uniforms are in place at ISB, individuality is, to a certain degree, still preserved as  students are also given the ability to represent their school sports teams/extracurricular activities by wearing their specific sweatshirts. However unfortunately, this luxury will be stripped away starting from the 2019-2020 academic year. Starting from next year, students will only be allowed to wear their respective team sweatshirts on Fridays.

Personally, I believe that although school uniforms could potentially be seen as a valuable asset, allowing students to celebrate their diversity and individuality even through the smallest ways would be extremely beneficial, especially at a school like ISB. At ISB, third culture kids like myself continue struggling to find themselves amongst the roller coaster ride of High School, although school uniforms are mandated by the government, allowing students to wear their respective team sweatshirts should be a privilege all students have the ability to enjoy.

Most students purchase these sweatshirts to show friends and family that the hard work they put into their ambitions eventually pays off. Most of the time I only wear the sweatshirts I have purchased from school teams, at school, since school is especially the place where I feel the need to establish my social presence. However, if I no longer have the ability to wear these sweatshirts at the one place I spend majority of my time at, I might as well not buy one.

Perhaps a compromise can be reached, perhaps students should be allowed to wear their team sweatshirts on top of their regular uniforms (especially since most students genuinely feel cold during class.) Perhaps ISB can also adopt ideas from other IASAS schools and implement alternate dress days which occur once every two weeks.

ISB’s school uniforms are continually changing, hopefully for the better.

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Student Concerns Over Proposed Changes to ISB Uniform Policy